Who doesn’t love a treat, whether it’s an ice-cream on a hot day, a takeaway on a Friday night or a beer after mowing the lawn! Sometimes there’s a good reason for having a treat and sometimes we just have one because it’s a great thing to do. We give treats to our pets for a variety of different reasons as well and here are my top three reasons.
- Training your dog with treats
Unlike many animals, dogs have a relatively large frontal lobe in their brain and this is the part of the brain that controls emotions.
As a result dogs can be trained without the use of treats and will accept a social reward such as a pat or play with a favourite toy. If you have a puppy it can be quicker and more effective to use treats when you want to establish the basic commands such as sit, stay and come. You and your pup will learn these basics at puppy preschool.
The key to using a training treat is to make sure that it that it is highly desirable. Dried liver and dried chicken breast are excellent choices and even small pieces of raw meat if you don’t mind having them in your pocket! Once you find a treat that your dog desires, keep it only for training and when the dog gives you the behaviour that you want only reward it with a tiny piece that can be consumed quickly. Kangaroo treats are a low fat alternative when training your pet, you may find that you will go through a lot! This encourages your dog to want to repeat the behaviour. Keep training session short and sharp, no more than 5 minutes with young dogs.
Keeping your treats in a treat bag means that when it’s time for training you are ready go and it provides a visual queue to the dog that training is about to commence.
One in three dogs will develop dental health issues in their life time and although some breeds are more pre-disposed to it than others, the most common cause are diets that don’t give the teeth a good work out. This is where treats can fill in the gap.
Hard treats such as entire meaty or dried bones (not cooked these are dangerous), deer antlers and hard biscuits get those teeth working because as they chew, the teeth are scraped clean. There are also treats formulated to improve dental health and these formulations are designed to breakdown tartar and reduce bacteria in the mouth (that can be a cause of bad breath) as the dog simply enjoys the treat.
- Are dog treats healthy?
Those big eyes and that wet nose can be irresistible often signalling that a treat is coming their way but be careful not to overdo the love! Over 40% of pets are overweight or obese so if you want to give a treat to your dog on regular basis, look for low fat and low sodium options. I like treats that are made from high quality ingredients, including biscuits (read the ingredient list) and dried meats such as chicken, beef, roo or liver.
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